Okay, how many of you remember the very first game when the Iowa State-Iowa football series was renewed way back in 1977?
How many of you were there?
Well, I suppose it makes me a true old timer, but I can answer “I do” and “I was” to those questions.
Iowa’s two state colleges actually first played football on Oct. 1, 1894, when they met in Iowa City and Iowa State left town with a 12-8 victory. In fact, the Cyclones won the first three games of the series, before Iowa then racked up five straight wins, including on Nov. 24, 1905, the first game played in Ames. The final game of that early series was played on Nov. 20, 1934 in Ames. Iowa State won that game, 31-6.
That game, the 24th meeting between the two schools, was the last in a series. Iowa held a 16-8 margin of wins when the two schools discontinued their football rivalry.
Forty-three years later the series was renewed and the two teams have met every year since.
And, yes, I can honestly say, I was among the throng of more than 60,000 spectators who watched that game 42 years ago. Neither team was ranked and, were it not for the hype surrounding the game, it drew very little interest beyond Iowa’s borders.
For a young man, though, who’d grown up in close proximity of Ames and had become a die-hard Iowa fan during the Evashevski 1950s when Iowa played in its first two Rose Bowls in decades, the game held far more significance than mere win-loss records.
Yes, finally, Iowa had its own Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl and Super Bowl all rolled into one beautiful Saturday afternoon.
I’d seen other milestones during a career in newspaper work. I sat in the Press Box at Milwaukee’s County Stadium and saw the first-ever major league game played by the Milwaukee Brewers, who’d been the Seattle Pilots the previous year. I saw Don Hutson catch the last touchdown pass of his career for the Green Bay Packers and saw Don Horn set a record by passing for more than 400 yards in a game. I was there when new Packers’ head coach Dan Devine suffered a broken leg in the first regular season game he coached in Green Bay.
I pitched a no-hitter, against Johnston, during my senior year at North Polk High School, and I think it was the first no-hitter in school history. I pitched the first no-hitter ever in the Swedish Baseball League, for Leksands Baseballklubb, in the summer of 1968.
I was at Daytona International Speedway when Cale Yarborough ran the first 200-mile-per-hour lap at the track while qualifying in 1980. It was unofficial, though, and not recognized when he crashed off turn four during his second of two laps.
Those are a few personal highlights. Really, they’re just a way to say that I’ve been around a long, long time. I’ve been around long enough that I was bound to see something of significance in a newspaper career that has lasted for more than half-a-century.
However, few of them hold a candle to sitting in the Iowa City stadium when Iowa State and Iowa renewed a long football rivalry after so many years. Yes, it was more than a game pitting “Moo U” against “Herky the Turkey.”
And, that brings me to a quiz, of sorts, that will test the mettle of fans of both schools. Admittedly, I looked up some of the information because more than four decades can play tricks on one’s memories. You know, it’s like old former racers. Most of them are “faster now than they were a few decades ago.”
If you’ve studied the series, if you’re a died-in-the-wool football nut, or if you just like trivia questions, you’ll probably be able to answer the following questions.
What was the score of the 1977 game?
Who scored for Iowa? Who scored for Iowa State?
Now from the series, answer these questions.
Iowa has won the last four games. What is the longest winning streak by Iowa? What’s the longest winning streak by Iowa State?
What’s the largest margin of victory by Iowa? What’s the largest margin of victory by Iowa State?
What is the overall record of each team in the series?
And, now, let’s finish things off with a few questions I consider to be tough ones.
Who was the coach of the 1977 Iowa team, and who coached the 1977 Cyclones?
How many coaches has Iowa had since 1977 and how many has Iowa State had during that same time? Now, name them.
Since football rankings began, Iowa State has been ranked among the top 20 teams only once by the Associated Press. What year was that? Iowa has been ranked eight times. Can you name each year that happened?
No matter what happens this year, it’ll be another chapter in a long football rivalry that probably should never have been interrupted because then-Iowa coach Ossie Solem refused to answer a request by Iowa State to schedule a game for the 1935 season.
As an Iowan, it was a good thing when the schools talked in the 1970s and the series was resumed. No matter what happens at season’s end – if one or both teams goes to a bowl or if both are passed over in the bowl selection process – Iowa’s own “bowl game” will have been played on September 14, 2019. One thing’s for certain – this is the first time that both teams are ranked in the football polls.
September 14 – one day after my 76th birthday. It’s close enough for me to call it a good birthday gift.